The History of Humboldt, Tennessee

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 Mayors of Humboldt  by John Blankenship

Humboldt Business Directory 1873 submitted by John Blankenship

Humboldt, one of the most flourishing towns of Gibson County, is located at the junction of the Mobile & Ohio and the Memphis & Louisville Railroads. It was laid out in 1858, upon land owned by Sharp, Lannom and Thruston. Previous to this time, however, a large steam flouring and saw-mill had been erected by John A. Taliaferro and W. A. Allison, on the railroad south of the town, and near where the first depot was located. The first business house was built by John C. Gillespie, on the lot now occupied by J. J. Thweatt, and there he opened a store in partnership with his son. At about the same time W. H. & John R. Simmons began business on an adjacent lot. From this time until the beginning of the war the town grew rapidly. Among the business men of that period were J. N. & J. R. Lannom, T. B. Love & Co., McGee & McKnight, Ebert & Co., G. S. Rainey and Clement & Thomas, while W. H. Stillwell and B. F. Landis -were the physicians. During the war business was pretty generally suspended, but at its close it began at once to revive. The first firms to re-enter business were Gillespie, Warren & Co., J. N. & J. R. Lannom. S. D. Waddill and Seward, Ferrill, Scales & Co. From that time the town again began to improve, and, although the growth has been checked by several very destructive fires, its excellent location, combined with an unusually enterprising population, has enabled it to overcome all obstacles, and it is now entering upon an era of renewed prosperity. The present business interests are represented by the following individuals and firms: 0. C. Sharp, J. J. Thweatt, T. J. Dow, A. B. Jones & Co. and T. A. Bond, dry goods; V. Donavan, P. B. Roe, A. L. Fox, I. H. Dugan, W. H. Henry, J. J. R. Adams, S. D. Waddill and E. B. Hart, groceries; W. 0. Penn, gents' furnishing goods; E. T. Transou and F. T. Hofford, furniture; M. T. Cox, saddlery; C. W. Albright, hardware, and J. A. Hamilton, B. F. Watkins, Scales Bros. and W. H. Mason, druggists. The town also has several important manufacturing enterprises. The Humboldt Buggy & Wagon Company was established in 1880, by the consolidation of the firms of Jarrell & Hamilton and Phillips & Scott, with a capital of $11,000, which has since been doubled. They employ from thirty-five to forty hands, and manufacture buggies, the "Charter Oak" wagon and implements. Jarrell & Hamilton formerly operated a steam saw-mill, which was built in 1871. Phillips & Scott established a buggy and wagon shop in 1875.

In 1869 William Jarrell established a foundry and plow factory. Two years later he sold a one-half interest to W. H. Dodson, and the business was conducted under the firm name of Dodson & Jarrell until 1878, since which time Mr. Dodson has been the sole proprietor. From twelve to fifteen hands are employed in manufacturing the "Jarrell Plow," cotton scrapers, and other implements. Until recently a grist-mill was operated in connection with the foundry.

E. W. Ing operates a large steam cotton-gin, which is run to its fullest capacity during the season. In 1880 the Humboldt furniture factory was established by a stock company, of which L.C. Tyler was president. After running very successfully for one year, it, with a large part of the business portion of the town, was destroyed by fire.

Humboldt is located in one of the most important fruit-growing sections of Tennessee, and at present has three large nurseries in successful operation, producing all the varieties of fruit trees, vines and ornamental shrubbery grown in this latitude. The "Humboldt nurseries" were established in 1859 by B. P. Transou, who continued as sole proprietor until 1866, when he was joined by his brother, E. T. Transou. In 1878 the latter sold his interest to M. G. Senter, who, since the death of B. F. Transou, has conducted the business.

In 1874 C. H. Ferrill & Co. established the "Pomona Nursery" about one-half a mile north of the town. It now covers about 120 acres, and from fifty to sixty agents are employed in selling its products in Tennessee and all the surrounding States. Morgan & Murphy are the present proprietors of the "Eureka Nursery," which was established in 1881 by Porter & Brown.

The first newspaper in Humboldt was the Cosmos, a Whig paper, which was established in 1860, and edited by W. H. Stillwell and S. W. Sharp. In 1867 the Headlight was established by Isaac McFarland, who continued its publication but a short time. It was succeeded by the Argus, Journal, Herald and Enterprise, all of which were short lived. In August, 1885, C. H. Ferrill & Co. began the publication of the Messenger, a nine-column folio, which they have since continued with good success.

All the leading secret orders are represented at Humboldt, with the exception of the K. of P. and I. 0. 0. F. The lodge of the latter order, which was instituted in 1868, recently surrendered its charter. Shiloh Lodge, No.202, A. F. & A. M., was organized about three miles north of Humboldt in 1847. In 1859 it was removed to the town, where a hall was erected at a cost of $3,500. This was recently destroyed by fire, and has not yet been rebuilt. The lodge now numbers about forty members. Cosmos Lodge, No. 53, A.O.U.W., was organized in 1878; its present membership is eighteen. Gibson Lodge, No. 454, K. of H., was established in 1878, and has since been highly prosperous, having a membership at present of fifty. Bethsheres Lodge, No. 406, K. & L. of H., was established in 1881.

Humboldt was incorporated in 1868, with Moses E. Senter as mayor. The present city officers are L. K. Gillespie, mayor and recorder; G. B. Hart, marshal; and C. T. Love, S. K. Allen and C. D. Allen, aldermen.

Source:  Goodspeed's History of Tennessee ; written in 1887

Charles Swartz, Aeronaut of Humboldt, TN


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